Design for Bird woven wool by William Morris, 1878

Design for a woven wool textile in pencil and watercolour depicting scrolling foliage with two garden birds, one placed above the other, on a dark blue background. On 25th March 1877 Morris wrote to his friend the textile manufacturer Thomas Wardle (1831-1909) ‘I am studying birds now to see if I can’t get some of them into my next design.’ ‘Bird’ is the first of a group of designs with pairs of facing birds, perched and in flight. Morris’s immediate inspiration for these designs came from sixteenth and seventeenth-century Italian woven silks seen in the collections of the South Kensington Museum. Morris leased Kelmscott House in Hammersmith in April 1878 and designed ‘Bird’ to hang in the house. Contemporary photographs show it hung around the walls of the first-floor drawing room. William’s daughter, May, described the pattern as ‘intimate and friendly’. See 'May Morris: Arts & Crafts Designer' by Anna Mason et al (London: Thames & Hudson, V&A, William Morris Gallery 2017) and 'William Morris Textiles' by Linda Parry (2nd edn: London: Victoria and Albert Museum 2013).

Record ID:D31
Measurement:101.6 x 68.2 cm
Inscription:Front: the property of Morris and Co. 26 Queen Square Bloomsbury Back: No 7 a [watercolour] Bird [st] Bird Pattern [pen] Curtain Portfolio 33 [round label]. There are numerous George Street stamps on the front and back of this design.
Classification:Original designs
Artist:Morris, William
Medium:Pencil and watercolour on paper
Date:1878
References:Among the numerous illustrations of the finished product are Crow, 1934, cover, and Watkinson, 1967, pl. 15. See also 'May Morris: Arts & Crafts Designer' by Anna Mason et al (London: Thames & Hudson, V&A, William Morris Gallery 2017) and 'William Morris Textiles' by Linda Parry (2nd edn: London: Victoria and Albert Museum 2013).